The only time in my life that I have ever cared about fashion was for a few months in 1994, when some enterprising footwear company debuted a line of childrens’ sneakers that had a small reservoir of blue and black goop enclosed under a clear plastic window at the toe, and when you pressed it, the goop would swirl around in there and change colors.
The commercial was great – a bunch of kids are hanging out and having fun in the 90s, perhaps enjoying the powerhouse economy or planning to get on a plane while drinking a soda purchased elsewhere. Suddenly, an alien in a spaceship comes down and, in the process of meeting these awesome 90s kids, spills some sort of high tech alien goop on the toes of their shoes. The kids then touch the shoe-goop, and it changes color from blue to black.*
*This commercial was later remade as the movie Avatar.
The kids react with glee – between first contact with advanced shoe-enhancing beings from another world and the fact that it was still the 90s, this was probably the best day ever.
The combination of weird goopy chemicals and the opportunity to integrate science fiction into my daily life proved too much, and right away I began badgering Mom to get me a pair. Money was on the tighter side at the time and I didn’t get a lot of the brand new shit I wanted, but I damn well got the alien goop shoes – I think it was mostly because Mom was so shocked that I was expressing any interest whatsoever in clothes, of all things.
Since then, though, I haven’t given-
What, you want to know the ending of the alien goop shoes story? Okay.
I wore the alien goop shoes to school for a while, and at first the other kids were all really interested and all ran up to me and wanted to press on my toes (acceptance at last!) before losing interest a week later when some smelly kid from the sticks wet himself during PE and became the next most interesting thing.
Yeah, I know. Sort of anticlimax. That’s why I wanted to move on.
Since then, though, I haven’t given two shits – nay, even one shit - about clothes or fashion. I have no idea which colors should be worn together or what pants will make me look gay, although I’m inclined to say ‘all of them.’
Part of my problem is that during my formative fashion years I sort of lived in isolation among nerds. Out of my core group of friends, I was the only person who didn’t come to class dressed as either an anime character or Chewbacca at some point in high school*, and pretty much everybody else in my social circle wore T-shirts from Goodwill and fifteen year old jeans.
*I’d like to take this opportunity to point out that even though my friends liked it, if I had the opportunity I would throw everything even remotely pertaining to anime into a volcano, and then take a dump in the volcano.
It was a fashion vacuum. All of my friends dressed the way I did or worse, so I assumed that my style of dress was normal and never really developed a fashion sense. (This vacuum applied to other things – I was also completely unaware that anybody at my high school was having sex, because, believe it or not, the heavily Mormon infused marching band and debate team crowd wasn’t quite the casual fuckfest that you might expect.)
What my lack of interest in fashion led to was the proliferation of my wardrobe as it exists today – pants of differing lengths and a wide array of T-shirts. I don’t deviate from this pattern because I know that, while it’s not high fashion, it also isn’t cause for overwhelming mockery. Any attempt to mix it up would be a blind stab; I have literally no idea what the verdict is on blazers with jeans right now, but I’d care not to find out firsthand.
The problem with a T-shirt based wardrobe is that T-shirts are generally a vehicle for graphics or phrases, which, in many cases, will turn out to be ironic or otherwise pithy.
Perhaps you see where I’m going with this.
I began accumulating ironic T-shirts when I was in high school – at the time I didn’t see anything wrong with wearing them because I thought they were funny and, as you will remember from earlier, I was under the impression that nobody at my high school was getting laid anyway.
Over the past few years, though, it’s come to my attention that ironic slogan T-shirts are more the purview of rotund men in their late 30s with ponytails and cell phone holsters* than that of the cool, funny, well adjusted men I hope to one day slightly resemble.
*My father is a slim, distinguished, fashionable guy who also happens to have a cell phone holster, and I’d like to make it clear that I am in no way mocking him. Your cell phone looks quite comfortable, holstered there on your hip. Right above your giant, mostly empty pocket.
So, sometime in the next three weeks, I’m going to dive headfirst into the perfect storm of things I hate – 1) Shopping for 2) clothes, that are 3) trendy, at least by my standards. This will also require 4) research about 2) clothes on 5) fashion websites so that I can know where best to 6) spend my money.
I don’t know that the clothes necessarily make the man, but in my experience they definitely can make the man look like a flaming idiot, which, as always, is what I’m trying to avoid.
Truman Capps is so wary of polo shirts.